Ramaphosa explains why he did not resign as deputy president during Zuma tenure

President Cyril Ramaphosa has faced criticism that he was Jacob Zuma’s number two when the Gupta family was accused of looting the state enabled by Zuma.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appears at the state capture inquiry on 11 August 2021. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has told the state capture commission that he chose not to resign as deputy president during former President Jacob Zuma's tenure as this would have only earned him praise but would not have enabled him to end state capture.

Ramaphosa has faced criticism that he was Zuma’s number two when the Gupta family was accused of looting the state enabled by Zuma.

He said that he chose to stay in the position but work with others to resist abuses and bring about change where they could.

Ramaphosa said that he had 5 options: to resign, speak out, acquiesce and abet, remain and keep silent, or remain and resist.

“Had I and like-minded individuals resigned from the executive, we would have had no ability to resist the excesses that were taking place and there was a clear danger that without resistance, there would have been even fewer impediments to the expansion of state capture,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said that he became aware of the incidents of state capture the same way that members of the public became aware - through the work of journalists, civil society organisations, and institutions such as the Public Protector and Auditor-General.

Ramaphosa has also detailed how he pushed back on the appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister in December 2015. The appointment that only lasted a weekend saw the rand tumble and business calling for a reversal of the appointment.

"Concerned by what I considered the capture of National Treasury because, to me, the capture of National Treasury was almost the final culmination of state capture, because you capture National Treasury, then you've basically captured the entire state, because that is where the money is, that is where it is controlled. After having that meeting with the then director-general, who described in fairly graphic terms how he feared that National Treasury had been captured, I also got concerned."

Ramaphosa said that he told the deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC) top 6 and they impressed on Zuma that he must reverse Van Rooyen’s appointment and replace him with Pravin Gordhan.

"Then there was a flurry of consultations that involved some of the ANC officials expressing disquiet about the appointment of Mr Des Van Rooyen: the then-ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, [ANC deputy secretary-general] Miss Duarte and myself urged the president to appoint another person as the Finance Minister. It is then that we urged that he appoint Mr Pravin Gordhan," he said.

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